Old woman Berthe leaves her house to live in her daugter Emilie's one. Emilie and her brother Antoine have fallen out three years ago and have not seen each other since, but Emilie invites h... Read allOld woman Berthe leaves her house to live in her daugter Emilie's one. Emilie and her brother Antoine have fallen out three years ago and have not seen each other since, but Emilie invites him for Christmas. Memories will come up, and will be depicted both Berthe's destiny and th... Read allOld woman Berthe leaves her house to live in her daugter Emilie's one. Emilie and her brother Antoine have fallen out three years ago and have not seen each other since, but Emilie invites him for Christmas. Memories will come up, and will be depicted both Berthe's destiny and the strange relationship between Emilie and Antoine.
Catherine Deneuve plays Emilie, an emotionally detached middle-aged woman who feels like she losing her grip. She's a lawyer, as is her husband, Bruno, but there is no love left in their marriage and her two nearly grown up children are estranged from her.
A crisis sets off a chain of events in her life. Her mother, Berthe, is having fainting spells and the doctors feels she shouldn't be alone at her country home, so Emilie invites her to stay with her family. No one is happy with the arrangement. Bruno resents her presence, and both he and his daughter think everyone in Emilie's family is crazy.
Emilie's brother, Antoine, a fussy little brain surgeon played by Daniel Auteuil, is invited by Emilie for Christmas Eve dinner. He doesn't get along with her family and soon an argument breaks out when Berthe tries to get her children to sit still while she discusses her will. Antoine leaves with his mother, to take her back to her home, and Emilie leaves after a bitter argument with Bruno.
The film follows the developing relationship among this circle of people. Everyone is wrapped up with their own lives and extremely possessive. No one really knows how to reach out to another human being.
We learn that Berthe and her husband were simple country folk - she never learned how to read - who only wanted what was best for their children. Berthe tells them their father only wanted them to be "modern." But modernity has its price.
Both the children are too busy with their own lives to take her in when she suffers another fainting spell, so she is placed in a rest home and begins to deteriorate. Antoine doesn't recognize that she's suffered a brain lesion because of a stroke - this is supposed to be his specialty, but he can't see what's right in front of him. Emilie's law practice centers around personal estates, but she has a hard time connecting with her own mother.
After the funeral, the whole family gets together at Emilie's old home and sits outside for a meal. They begin to talk and show more friendliness towards each other than in the past - Bruno even invites Antoine to sleep the night over. The title from the film comes from the last snippet of conversation when everyone confesses what their favorite season of the year is.
This is a fine film that explores adult relationships. It's rather candid and not as histrionic as, say "Ordinary People." The acting is well-done - Catherine Deneuve continues to age extraordinarily well - and the scenery of rural Southwest France is stunningly pastoral.
Because of its drab subject matter, this one might not appeal to everyone, but it's a very good movie and I recommend it.
- Oct 28, 2003